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UPCI presents study on discovery of protein that suppresses dendritic cells

PITTSBURGH, April 5 Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) will present their findings at the 93rd annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research being held April 6-10 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.

Protein found to play an important role as a molecular switch in the survival and demise of dendritic cells
Embargoed until Sunday, April 7

University of Pittsburgh researchers have discovered that a protein, cdc42, plays an important role in the survival of dendritic cells in cancer. Their study showed that cdc42 was upregulated in dendritic cells treated with tumors, suppressing their activity, and that dendritic cells grew when the expression of cdc42 was decreased. The study further demonstrated that dendritic cells treated with tumors not only expressed higher levels of cdc42, but also expressed 15-fold less of a cdc42 inhibitor (Rho-GD-1) and 5.7-fold more of a cdc42 activator (ezrin).

The discovery of an increasing number of genes regulating dendritic cell activity and a better understanding of the molecular interactions between immune cells has provided the molecular basis for specific approaches of active immunotherapy in cancer patients, said Michael Shurin, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at the University of Pittsburgh and associate director of clinical immunopathology. This new direction, which one could term therapeutic molecular immunopathology, will allow us to identify new molecular targets in dendritic cells and to possibly design new therapeutic approaches for cancer by genetically engineering the cells to protect them from tumor-induced apoptosis. This can translate into new possibilities for the creation of highly efficient vaccines for cancer therapy.


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Contact: Clare Collins
CollCX@msx.upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
7-Apr-2002


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